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John and the space boat - Applecrate, Episode 1

AragmarDec 28, 2019, 1:58:52 PM

Space: Terran Minarchy

Star system: Omia

Planet: Omia Prime

Colony name: Applecrate

Population: 158552

The IMS Space boat gracefully descended through Omia Prime’s atmo, her powerful engines leaving long trails of plasma behind. John used perhaps more than the usual amount of fuel to initiate landing maneuvers but he was not a master pilot. He, just as any other Terran could fly a shuttle, knew how to plot FTL jumps and, could fix basic starship systems. That is, if the damage was not great and he had access to spare parts – John was not an engineer but an H-logger. As the atmo screeched over his starship’s shields, he focused the optical sensors to take some holo-slides of Applecrate. This was how locals named the one and so far, only town on their colony. With a skilled hand he tweaked the scanners too – one could add full depth to any image, in effect creating a piece of holo-art for their fans to enjoy. Each and every PDA had a perfectly good holo projector, capable of displaying even the 2D images taken in olden times. Took him only a few seconds to gather enough scan data and more than a couple of holo-slides, which he would later link to his patrons in the form of holo-art, planetary post cards even. His fans did pay for those and John loved creating them. What he now had to work with would later allow him to create a full holo of the immediate area surrounding Applecrate and the town itself. The beautiful orchards he could see in the distance, them and the large derelict which local salvagers were even now scurrying around, chopping odd pieces of metal from. John smiled; he knew one Spacer by the name of Sonny and managed to negotiate for an in depth interview. That, however, was space salvaging, or how the Spacers called it Hauling and all-too different from Dragging. He chuckled – in the beginning, those who gathered salvage from crashed derelicts simply tied their haul well and then dragged it behind by use of muscle power. The little dots on his optical sensors were most probably teenagers; these days almost everyone could afford vehicles and John counted at least a dozen or more, Danube pickup trucks. What were they building down there? One of John’s sources claimed that locals and specifically some humans who came from Earth, were improving upon the colony’s marketplace. He had to check it out as soon as possible!

It took another thirty seconds and John’s yacht landed; its hull almost completely conquering one of Applecrate’s biggest landing platforms. The indicator on his navigation pit bleeped a couple of times, reminding him to re-fuel the Space Boat. He had to find himself an assistant, perhaps even two! This recent expansion of his business required new arrangements to be made – starships, even small ones needed a crew. John walked out of the bridge and on his way to the exit, entered the equipment room. On most Terran starships this was the space where crews ran to during a boarding alarm, not on his ship, however. Being an H-logger, John did not expect nor desired to fly around war zones. Moreover, there were plenty of combat bloggers or C-bloggers, who performed dangerous, deadly stunts, in an attempt to capture the best holo-feed. Not his party, not ever; John was prepared to fight had the circumstances required it, but did not look for trouble himself. He changed from his spacesuit into a light field armor; the new equipment he purchased from a Japanese company which supplied colonial militias. John also pulled a sidearm from the weapon’s rack and holstered it; he was a Terran after all. The venerable Nambu Z07 model was an accurate pistol and his came factory equipped with a stunner. The fact that humans walked around ready to defend themselves meant not that they would fire the first shot, or shoot to kill. There were plenty of others, professional soldiers and their ilk, who dealt with the greater threats roaming through this part of space. If needed, John could readily defend himself or others by stunning the odd alien criminal up to no good. Blue Wall corp. sent him a link before he jumped into hyperspace, ensuring him that Applecratean citizens were kept safe by their numerous patrols. There existed no colony in Terran space, where private security and local sheriff departments would not extend their protection over newcomers or alien tourists.

Before disembarking, John again checked his shoulder mounted holo-cam stabilizer, the VI link to the suit’s integrated PDA and how many spare data crystals he had. The suit’s helmet rested safely mag locked on his left thigh and the Nambu in its holster on his right. John looked down the ramp, one hand in the air, shielding his eyes from the sun. The air was crisp, warm, and a gentle breeze carried the delightful aroma of cooked food up the hill slope where Applecrate’s starport was built. He attempted to pick up different foods and after a short while, gave up. There were at least a dozen or so distinct sources of smoke, and all of them had intertwined into one. The aroma of barbecued meats was most prevalent but John could swear there was someone baking bread. He was told of Applecrate’s signature baked blue apples but those were traditionally only eaten during their harvest fairs. Which, coincidentally would begin in two days and was the colony’s main tourist attraction. Not only did the locals had a wonderful tradition if brewing mead, hard cider, they also made special fruit, even meat pies. After searching G-net while the last work was being done on his Space Boat, John discovered many other and curious things about Applecrate. He had already arranged for one of the most informed locals to tell him the curious and, mysterious tale, how this colony was named. Amy First – this lady was one of Applecrate’s first citizens and the owner of “The Tumbling Apple”. On her G-net link, he also read that she was a brewer of all things alcoholic. He couldn’t wait to spend a few days in that old, traditional Terran off-world inn. So far he’d been all over the Solar system, but the “Domes” could only be found on the Fringe. John also hoped to chat with at least one Spacer while on Applecrate; the Domes were the place for explorers, haulers and traders to visit, exchange stories, or demonstrate their skills with the gun. Spacers never embellished their tales, however, and the duels between them were a friendly contest to discover who could draw quicker. Oh, this place was full of all sorts of amazing possibilities! The best thing was – he would be one of the first H-loggers to visit here after the Jaern attack. Applecrate was now totally safe, John was assured of it and multiple times by the commander of this colony’s militia – Maj. Ilya Strong.

One lonely, fluffy cloud slowly blocked the sun and John lowered his hand, giving the surrounding area a quick look. It was a Terran starport; multiple small starships, ranging from tiny shuttles, carrying families who traveled here to spend their vacation, and transport vessels, calk full of cargo. A highly efficient team of power loaders strutted around the landing pads; the small, fifteen feet tall mechs, quickly carried containers full of trade goods, either emptying the starships holds or, filling them full of Applecratean produce. John waved and the closest loader pilot waved back; all of these mechs were operated by women. He strolled carefully between the pads, then close to the security force field and again greeted the worker:

“Hello, my name is John Daub and I am an H-logger. Could you direct me to your foreman ma’am? If I may also ask for permission to take holo footage of you and other Loader Girls working, that would be awesome.”

“Please to meet you, John, my name is Daria.” – the woman was currently on stand-by, her mech’s arms open and waiting for one of the starport’s tractor beam operators to “give” her a container – “One of the real, big netsonalities, here, on Applecrate!? But, of course, you can record footage around here, this is a safe work area after all. That, or better yet, why not stream directly everything on G-net? Our colony’s hyperspace satellite is of top quality. Wait till I link the rest of my co-workers, John, all of them, myself included, would love to be in one of your holo-vids! Some of them are fans and, if I am not mistaken, all could use one of your holo-graph cards. Can they, please, pretty please?”

John smiled, checked if suit’s his stash of “You found John” plastic cards was full, and then turned on the holo-cam:

“Greetings everybody and welcome to Applecrate! This is my first time here and,” – John waved to Daria, whose power loader had just grabbed a large container full of mining equipment – “as you can very well see, this place is bustling! The starport’s beating heart – its Loader Girls are always on duty; they are ready to speedily and efficiently move your cargo about.” – He strolled between the landing pads, his destination the starport’s main control tower. On every intersection, John ordered his holo-cam to make a 360 turn and casually waved at the rest of Daria’s co-workers. Most of them, who were off-duty or resting, swarmed him at the base of the control tower and he, still happily smiling, reached into his pocket. If John expected to easily sneak past the loader girls, he had another thing coming. All of them had home cooked food and everyone wanted him to try her meal in particular. In the end, before he could enter the tower, John had to organize a quick poll, agreeing to taste three different foods. While the women voted, he slid through the open doors of the control tower and was immediately greeted by the quiet voice of a uniform wearing, four feet tall bunny:

“Welcome to Applecrate, Patron. Amy just linked; she asked me to be your guide while she concludes a few deals with a business associate of hers.” – The bunny wore a uniform of the colonial militia Ops specialist, meaning she was good with computer systems and probably had combat experience. Her left shoulder pad was adorned with the Martian Grenadiers red patch, and her right, Applecrate’s own militia banner. She extended her white furred paw, and while John studied the bunny’s red eyes, one of her ears twitched. – “Pleased to meet you, John, my name is Evelyn but you may call me Eve.”

                                                                  * * *

This is the first episode of John and the space boat! In the next installment, John will further explore the colony town of Applecrate, meet with some of its most prominent inhabitants, and most definitely taste a lot of food. Expect the next episode soon! JATB was inspired by a real world netsonality and his many adventures - John Daub hails from our humble dimension. You can find his Youtube channel and his second one, here!

Links to all episodes:

Part 0 - Introduction - The Walkabout

Episode 2 - Outskirts

Episode 3 - The little bear

Episode 4 - The Tumbling Apple

Episode 5 - Derelict

Episode 6 - The fish whisperer

Episode 7 - Stargazers

Episode 8 - Wheels

Episode 9 - Revelation

Episode 10 - Harvest fair